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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WEP post: HOW YOU DIE


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HOW YOU DIE
(999 words)
 

Nola bizi, hala hil. 

(How you live is how you will die.)
– Basque proverb





Scofield studied me with eyes holding all the warmth of a hawk’s  

 “ I’m unsettled by the mushrooms.”


We were playing chess not eating her cooking. Not that I would be so foolish as to eat her cooking.   

Her last name wasn't Scofield any more than mine was Templar.


  Her beauty when young was legendary, leading to the death of many of her assignments.   

Even in her sixties, Scofield was striking.


“There’s much that’s unsettling at Dunwich Estates.”


Her voice cracked with fear.   

“Those black mushrooms just appeared at the farthest mansion … 

their ring sprouting at twilight, circling a dead cat, though by dawn the cat was gone.”


 A black cat strolled lazily out from under the table to rub against my leg.

Scofield paled.  

 “When did you get a cat?”



I turned up the corners of my lips.  “There are worse things awaiting the living than death.”


Her thin lips tightened.  “I was enjoying the south of France until the Service forced me to move next to you.”


“You could have said ‘No’.”


“Ending up on the same list as you?”


“I’ve been on that list a long time.  I’m still here.”


“How have you managed that?”


“I … find a way to arrange a win/win situation for myself and … uneasy allies.”


The cat moved as if to rub against Scofield’s leg, and she rose quickly.  

 “I have to go.”


I watched her almost run to the front door, flinging it open, 

revealing a full moon against a stark night sky as if it had hungrily devoured all the stars.




The cat laughed in a man’s voice, “Tókša akhé.”   

‘Later’ in Dakota.


It looked up at me with hungry eyes. 


“Soon,” I promised.   

Its eyes said it had better be damn soon.  Emphasis on the damned.


 In the following days, I went about keeping my word.  

 I built one Dakota Burial Platform after another on the front lawn of my estate 

until the grounds bristled like some grotesque beard.


I was putting the finishing touches on the last platform 

when the black cat flowed out of the deepening twilight shadows. 

“Osiceca.”


I know. The storm is almost here.  We’ve run out of time.”


Scofield appeared as if out of nowhere, holding a bowl of liquid.  I sniffed.  

 Mushroom soup.


Her voice was still her own. 

 “The lights have gone out all over Dunwich Estates.  Only your estate and mine have lights on at night.   

One manor after another has been swallowed up by those damn mushrooms.”


“Doesn't explain that soup.”


“Arthur’s grounds were taken over last night. I took these mushrooms from his front yard.”


“The President of the Community Board?”


“He wouldn’t answer any of my phone calls.  I went over to his front door just now 

and saw him and his wife standing motionless in the front room just staring at one another, 

their lips wiggling but no sounds coming out.”


I shrugged.  “At least none that human ears could hear.”


“Damn you!  You know something, don’t you?”



“The developers of these estates really knew how to pick their sites.   

Not just any Dakota burial site, mind you, but one whose spiritual energies blocked the way to ….”


I trailed off, not having the words that an assassin bred in the “real world” would understand.


“Dakota?  I thought you were Basque.”



I nodded.  “My grandmother was full Basque.  

 My grandfather didn’t stay around long enough to tell my father just what he was.”


“He was Dakota?”


“Apache.  But Elu's ability to inhabit dead animals helped him get around.”


Scofield asked as if to a madman, “Was that his name?”


I nodded to the black cat studying her like a red-tailed hawk would a lame mouse. 

Is his name.  Meet my uneasy ally.  Everyone from the Service who've tried to kill me already have.”


Scofield dumped out the soup with a hurried flick of a wrist. 

The cat laughed in a very unfeline way.  She paled.




I nodded to the tiny mushrooms sprouting up from the spilled soup.  
  
“As you have lived so you will die.  You failed them.  I’m sure they don’t forgive.”


“H-Help me.”


“You sowed the seeds. Now, comes the harvest.”


“Please!”


“If you run fast enough, you might make it to your front door before our possessed neighbors drag you down.”



Scofield watched the growing black mushrooms with ever-widening eyes for a heartbeat, then raced away into the night.


“Spry for her age.”




The cat grunted: “Hiya Onsi La?”


“No mercy in war, Elu.”


In the darkness beyond my gate, Scofield cried out.  

 Once.




I looked down at the impassive gaze of the cat. 

 Its eyes said there was a justice not written in books nor found in any court.



In the 19th century, the railroads exterminated the buffalo to force the Dakota onto reservations. 

After a harsh winter, the Minnesota government withheld food and payment for their lands. 

“Let them eat grass,” said one trader.



Bloodshed ensued, ending with the largest mass execution in U.S. history, 38 Santee warriors, 

after a trial of five minutes with neither attorneys nor witnesses allowed.



I looked up at the diamond dust of the Milky Way, the Hanging Road, which led to the Camp of the Dead.   


Trudging through my gate, the possessed of Dunwich Estates silently swayed and suddenly stopped.  

 Glazed eyes studied my 38 burial platforms for long moments.




Flying whips of fire hissed down from the sky to consume those platforms.   

What emerged were grim-faced figures of living flame. 

 The Wana’gi Elu called them.



In Karmic retribution, the Wana’gi sprang at the mushroom-controlled humans 

dispossessing the bodies and claiming them for their own.




More darts of strange fire sizzled down from the stars toward the houses beyond.


“Come, Grandson,” gruffed Elu’s voice from the cat.   

“As a White, you will not be welcomed.”


I nodded, walking into that darkness which never forgets … nor forgives.


Friday, October 11, 2019

WHAT WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH?



“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
Martin Luther King, Jr.


What will carry you through as a writer?

1. A Wild And Mad Daemon of a Muse:


If you want to survive, you’ve got to have an imagination that won’t lay down and die. 

Your cat has exploded?  Use it. 

Zombies are pounding on the door.  Ignore them.  Think of it as the pulse of your muse murmuring ideas to you.


2. Discipline:


No amount of imagination will help you unless you sit your tush in the chair, pound the keyboard, and put prose on the blank screen.

Need Motivation?

Come up with your own item of visual motivation. It might be inspirational words taped to your computer

(“You get what you dare, baby, and if you want big, you dare big”—author Leonard Bishop)


 The primary way writers keep discipline going is through the weekly quota. Most successful fiction writers make a word goal and stick to it.


Discipline is helped by a healthy body.


The imagination is housed in the brain. The brain is housed in the body. The body is the temple of the soul. Treat it as such.

Your productivity and creativity depend on it.  Take that brisk walk!  Both your body and muse need it. 


3. A Schizophrenic Frame of Mind:


You must be a triad:

Optimistic enough to believe your work will eventually be bought/

Realistic enough to know it will not be overnight/

Pessimistic enough to question the purity of human motives when you finally are handed a contract to sign.


4. Inner Strength:


You have to be able to pound nail after nail into board after board to build your Ark under a cloudless sky to the sound of derisive laughter behind you.

You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.

Face the Harsh Law:

What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

You may believe your talent is one in a million, but it is what you do with it that counts.

Make it an inner contract to finish what you start,

to wring that final chapter out of your imagination, and to brave rejection and put it out there either by self-publication or submitting to agents/editors.


5. Curiosity:
 

"The important thing is not to stop questioning.

 Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."
- Albert Einstein

Most writers are curious by nature. We look at the world around us and wonder at it.

Who are these people? What are we all doing here?

Where are we heading? Why do we do the things we do? How will we achieve our goals?

Remember how curious you were as a child?

Everything you encountered spawned a series of questions

because you were trying to learn and understand the world around you.

Bring that childlike curiosity back, and you’ll never need to look far for now, inspiring writing ideas.

By fostering curiosity, we can create a fountain of ideas.

It doesn’t matter what form your writing takes or what genre you’re writing in.

By coming up with intriguing questions, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with inspiration.

Take the basic questions and put a riveting spin to them:

Who?
Who does my main character trust? What does that say about them? About the trusted person?

What?
What motivates people to take drastic actions?

Where?
Where do these people want to be?

When?
When does a child become an adult?

Why?
Why does this story matter?

How?
How do you describe something that doesn’t really exist? 

Hope this helps in some small way.